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William Hogarth
Before and After



Hogarth could, when he chose, paint extremely pretty women, but the puritanical preacher dwelling inside him seems to have associated feminine attractiveness with vice, or at least with sin. The prostitutes who abound in his moralising pictures are young, handsome and seldom evil-looking. Actresses, whose profession was far from respectable in 18th century London, are also delightfully portrayed, and so is the girl who struggles and yields in Before and After.

The faces of most of these symbolic figures look much alike; they have Hogarth's attractive but disapproving "look of sin". If he could be asked why he made his female sinners so pretty, he would undoubtedly answer, like many another preacher, that sin is indeed attractive and therefore all the more dangerous, and so it should be shown with all its treacherous charm.

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